January 29, 2014

Re-training To Relax

Last week I had a lovely experience - I took my son to see his piano teacher perform with his wife in Banff.  She is a trained singer, and he sings well in addition to accompanying and performing on the piano.

It was so nice as my son snuggled in to listen - we were sitting in the front row so we could see his teacher's hands both as they played and as they were reflected in the shiny black of the piano.  It was a relaxed atmosphere with high quality music mixed with a few laughs.  Excellent.

As I watched the singing, I thought about my own current learning path with my voice.  Due to an injury many years ago and compounded by pregnancies (again, years ago!), I am still re-training my core muscles to do their proper jobs.  What I didn't understand fully until quite recently is how much that injury affected the way I breathe and the way I sing.  And so I am embarking upon a journey to completely re-learn how to breathe.  Yikes.

The point of mentioning this in my blog is twofold.  The first aspect is that there is a strong connection between core stability and singing ability.  I am getting help from re:focus Pilates here in Canmore, and if this is an area where you struggle I encourage you to start looking after this aspect of yourself.  When it was just an issue of making my back feel better, I found lots of ways to procrastinate and not build up my core strength, having lost it entirely in the injury.  Now that I'm making the connection to my VOICE though, I am daily on that slow road with, well, determination if not enthusiasm.

The second aspect goes back to watching the singer on Saturday night.  She really is lovely as a person, an entertainer, and a voice.  What I took away from watching her though, was how relaxed her jaw, neck, throat, and face were as she sang.  This is something I know to strive for in my singing, but something I rarely acheive without great mental effort.  The less stress you hold in the muscles surrounding your vocal chords and breathing pathways, the less strained your sound will be and the more control, volume and tone you'll be able to produce - and the less likely you will be to injure yourself.

We're on this journey together, because I've got a long road ahead to reach that point as well.  In the meantime, stay healthy in this flu-riddled time of the year, step bravely toward your goals, and sing a little bit every day.  Tra-la!

Blessings.

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